Posted: 4/14/2013 8:02:35 AM
Duke Football kicked off its 2013 season by wrapping up its 2013 Spring practice with the annual spring game; and in the process revealed a few glimpses of what we can expect from the team this coming year.
The Blue Devils headed into the Spring with numerous questions and not as many answers. This spring was to give fans and coaches an idea of where the program was headed now following its most successful season in two decades. Duke also is suffering the loss of a three year starter in quarterback and two major receiving weapons.
Overall the game gave you what you would expect: Some early sloppy play followed by more glimpses of good and bad. Head coach David Cutcliffe praised his team’s effort in the post game.
“From a spring training standpoint as a coach, this has been the most willing squad. There was some good on both sides of the ball,” Cutcliffe said.
Heading into the Saturday’s game the Blue Devils were already without several key players who were hurt prior to spring and then suffered terrible news when expected back up quarterback Thomas Sirk ruptured his Achilles tendon.
Duke was able to rush true freshman quarterback Parker Boehme in as the emergency starter for the Blue team and after a bit of a shaky start he more than held his own throwing for 128 yards and a touchdown and showing good mobility.
The most shocking thing is he never even practiced.
“I can’t say enough about what that guy did. He just did that without practicing period,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said. With Brandon Connette injured and missing the spring practice as well Boehme emergence was a welcome sign and could mean some changes to the game plan come fall.
“We get Brandon Connette back, we would have loved to have that option today,” Cutcliffe said. “A lot of it depends on that youngster guy you saw today, Parker Boehme.”
It was projected starter Anthony Boone who stepped up to lead the team, completing 18 of 30 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns. He had to find some new weapons after losing two of the team’s leading receivers in Desmond Scott and Conner Vernon but he did just that.
Jamison Crowder caught four passes for 71 yards and caught both touchdown passes from Boone. Crowder is expected to become the go-to receiver for the Blue devils this season. Sophomore receiver Max McCaffrey also turned some heads. After earning most improved player honors for this spring, McCaffrey went out and caught four passes for 50 yards and proved to be an able bodied number two receiver behind Crowder.
“I think one of the things that you see is that this team has a lot of playmakers on offense,” Cutcliffe said. “We’ve got a large number of people that can make plays for us on offense.”
Early on in the game it was the defense led by transfer safety Jeremy Cash who had five tackles (3 solo) as well as an interception as he looked impressive. Cash sat out the 2012 season after his request for a waiver to avoid sitting out due to his transfer from Ohio State after their coaching change was rejected.
Duke was solid at times on defense but clearly aren’t where they want to be right now mainly due to injuries.
“I think when we get our people back. You realize we had 9 people out on defense,” Cutcliffe said. “Seven of those 9 are significant in our plans. I like where we are headed. I think we can be a more energetic defense.
Obviously the concern over injuries has many wondering about the offensive side of the ball and with a running quarterback and their proclivity for getting banged up it was only natural for Cutcliffe to field more than a few questions about whether the Blue Devils may become more conservative offensively.
“I told (offensive coordinator) Kurt (Roper) we’ve got a style of offense we are headed toward that we think we have to do to win football games. So we can’t play cautious,” Cutcliffe said referring to the running quarterbacks.
Overall the game answered a few questions but many more will remain until the team reconvenes in August, hopefully healthier and with as full a compliment of players as possible. The goals though remain the same: Build off last year’s success and reach a bowl game if not more.
“I think this team expects to set their sights on a bowl. That has to be real,” Cutcliffe said. You have to earn it and its not going to be easy. My expectation is that it should be the standard.”
Stay tuned to the Duke Sports Blog for more analysis from the 2013 Spring Game as well as position breakdowns this summer all in preparation for the kickoff of the 2013 Duke Football season.
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